The votes are in. The $144 million 2011-12 Middletown Township schools budget has passed voter approval by 125 votes, 3,332 (51 percent) for and 3,207 (49 percent) against, according to the unofficial results from the Monmouth County Board of Elections.
The sanctioning of the spending plan means roughly a $65 annual hike on the tax bill of the average homeowner with property assessed at $435,000.
The budget win means maintenance of most and expansion of some school programs and initiatives, such as the district's relatively new all-day Kindergarten. Some staff positions (3.5) can now also be added as well. Interim Superintendent Thomas Pagano and Board of Education Administrator/Board Secretary Amy Gallagher took a budget presentation on the road the entire month to communicate to voters exactly what the spending plan called for.
Last year, a failed budget still resulted in the cut of more than 100 staff members. When a budget fails, it gets sent to the Township Committee for recommended cuts to make the proposed tax hike more palatable for taxpayers. Pagano had made a plea to voters to keep the budget in the board's and residents' hands by approving it.
As for board seats, Leonora Caminiti won the unexpired one-year term of former board member Dan Skelton. Caminiti took the seat with 1,754 votes, or 36 percent of the 4,897 votes cast. The second highest vote-getter was Allan Burns, with 1,659 votes. Ernest Donnelly garnered 1,474 votes.
Winners of the up for grabs were: John Macrae, Bob Banta and Gerald Wexelberg. Macrae won the most votes, with 3,515, or roughly 26 percent of the total 13,745 votes cast. Banta won with 2,862 votes; and Wexelberg garnered 2,531.
The three of the six who ran who were defeated were: Richard Morril, with 1,642 votes, Barry Allan Travis, with 1,632 votes and Bob Superti, with 1,487 votes.
For more information on the winning candidates, see .